Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Get some shut-eye!

Here's just one more reason for the importance of sleep to our overall health: A recent study conducted by the American Association for Cancer Research linked loss of sleep to increased cancer risks, according to a story in Reuters. 

And here's the scary part: Even for those who take precautions and preventive actions that have been proven to lower cancer risks (such as exercising and eating right), inadequate sleep seems to counteract those benefits.  Of course, more research needs to be done to figure out just why sleep deprivation makes people more susceptible not only to cancer, but also to other diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease -- not to mention a host of physical and emotional problems such as obesity and depression. 

But, regardless of the exact causal link, the bottom line is still the same: Don't shirk on the shut-eye!  Aim for at least seven hours a night. 

Friday, November 14, 2008

Kissing an ashtray

The habit of smoking has declined significantly over the decades. According to a story in Reuters, the number of adult Americans who smoke dropped below 20 percent in 2007 (to 43.4 million people), from a high of 42 percent in the 1960s (which is when health officials began tracking the numbers). That's great news!

For, there really isn't ONE positive reason for smoking. It's disgusting. It kills you. It's very expensive. It's inconvenient. It turns off non-smokers. It stinks up your car, your house, your clothes. And, it's highly addictive. -- Which, of course, is the reason so many people still indulge in the habit.

People such as Matthew. And it's become a bit of an issue between us.

When I met him, he did not smoke. After we had dated for a few weeks, he told me he had been a smoker most of his adult life, but had quit a year ago. And then, slowly, he picked up the habit again, starting with cigars (yuk!) and quickly accelerating to a pack a day of Camel nonfilters (super-yuk!)

Now, he has always been a fairly polite smoker -- taking his cigarettes outside, gargling with mouthwash after he smokes, etc. However, the smell still lingers -- it's impossible to eliminate completely. Plus, there's the whole health issue.

So, I asked him to quit, as a birthday present to me. And he did -- for a while. I applauded that, and admired him for it, because I know just how addictive the habit can be.

But he has backslid again. And I'm back to kissing an ashtray (yuk!).

Now, to be fair, I DID tell him that I'd like him to quit by his birthday, which is Dec. 1 -- and he recently indicated that he's still aiming for that goal. So, I've backed off on giving him grief over it (which, frankly, is not easy to do!).

Still, it's hard to see his cigarette consumption continue to climb, because it will just be that much harder for him to give it up. Which, I'm assuming, he DOES plan to do.

But if not .... well, then that's a much bigger issue ...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Gulp, and whoa!!

So, I did my yearly duty on Monday morning and went for a mammogram.

Then they called me back on Tuesday and wanted to take some more pics, because apparently there was something in one breast they needed a closer look at. So, I went back on Thursday morning. The mammo technician told me it was "calcifications," which are usually benign and no problem, but that the radiologist needed some magnifications to study them further.

Then my doctor's office called that evening: They want to do a biopsy, mainly as a "precaution."


On Friday evening when I got home (too late to call back), a message from the local hospital said to call and set up a time to come in for the "open appointment" they have for me.

Whoa, whoa, whoa!

The sense of urgency and lack of specifics are indeed alarming. I's just so scary to see how quickly, and vaguely, they're shoving me toward the "surgery" route ...
So, I just hopped online and did a google search on this whole breast calcifications thing. Seems some doctors like to do a biopsy when they find the kind of calcifications I seem to have (of which, 80% turn out benign), while others take a more cautious wait-and-see approach.

I need to talk with my doctor further and find out more specifics about why they're pushing for the biopsy. My inclination is to wait and see. I also downloaded info on herbs and other foods that can have a beneficial effect on breast health -- which I intend to start taking, asap.

Gulp, and whoa!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Speaking of being conscientious ...

I voted ... did you? 

Was worried about the potential for long, long waits -- but I was in and out in about 10 minutes. Of course, I was able to go at a non-rush-hour time, so that helped. 

But even if you have no choice and must go after work today, thus facing long lines and waits, I hope you take the responsibility -- and the privilege -- seriously.

Do your civic duty! We can't have a democracy without the people's participation! 

And, hey: Once you're done, you can stop by a local Starbucks for free coffee, or Ben & Jerry's for free ice cream, or Krispy Kreme for a free doughnut ... 

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The upside of being conscientious

Being nice doesn't get much respect in this me-first, money-worshipping society in which we live.  After all, nice guys finish last -- right?  

Not so fast ... maybe there's something to being a kind, caring and responsible citizen, after all: A new study (as reported in the L.A. Times) links the personal trait of conscientiousness to longevity. Seems that this attribute, as well as other factors that go along with it -- such as stability, hard work and self-control -- help a person to stay healthier into old age, and thus live longer.  

I'd also add that being conscientious helps give you a positive outlook and keeps you emotionally strong, two other vital factors to maintaining good health.  

So, nice guys may finish last -- but at least they'll live long enough to have the last laugh!

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